A really interesting article in the Fin Review of 29 October by Roy Green, Dean of the Macquarie Graduate School of Management, of a subject dear to my heart: innovation policy. He notes that “it would have required an unusual degree of incompetence for a resource-rich economy such as Australia not to benefit from favourable world conditions, especially China’s industrialisation” and that it really doesn’t matter who wins the debate on taking credit for our current prosperity. For more importantly, has this windfall gain been squandered like the UK did with its North Sea oil and gas resources, or has it been invested wisely like Norway in a “future fund” to create the “research and innovation infrastructure recognised as essential to build a knowledge-based economy.”
He notes OECD data that shows Australia lags in “investment in knowledge” in comparison with our international competitors. It reminds me of the days prior to the 2001 election with the whole concept of the knowledge nation (yes, and that lampooned noodle diagram) which provided some form of vision of Australia as more than a quarry and foodbowl.
Many areas of the services portion of our economy (finance, games, some areas of new media) are leading the world. Yet others are relatively slow to progress and we run the risk of being overtaken by more competitive countries who are advancing their own economies. There was much talk in 2000/2001 with the Innovation Summit and the Chief Scientist’s Chance to Change report, but what’s actually happened on the ground.
I’d like to hear more about this future vision of Australia, of innovation beyond products and R&D and really coming to grips with the knowledge aspects of innovation in companies, industry sectors, government and the community.